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7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays

7 Great Ways to Be Social During the Holidays
    Photo credit: confidence, comely. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

    The holidays are an excellent opportunity to socialize, make friends, have fun with others and be grateful for the people in your life.

    But if you’re somewhat on the shy side and you have trouble opening up during social interactions, holidays can be a pain in the neck, because you know others socialize and enjoy themselves while you’re missing out on all the fun.

    Well, this year is going to be different.

    As a social confidence coach, helping others overcome their shyness and be more outgoing is the core of my job description. I want to share with you 7 great ways to be more social during the upcoming holiday season.

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    1. Fill up Your Social Agenda

    Forget about spending Christmas Eve watching a movie alone or the holiday vacation reading a 1200-page book. The first key step to enjoying meaningful interactions during the holidays is to get involved in social activities instead of avoiding them. Any social activity you can find, try to attend. Family dinner, corporate party, friends gathering, drinking night, holiday trip — anything goes.

    Even if it may not sound appealing at first — or just the thought of attending it makes you feel nervous — you will typically discover it’s a lot more fun once you actually go to it.

    2. Organize Social Events

    There is no need to wait for others to organize some social activity and invite you, too. Take the initiative, arrange your own social events, and invite others to attend.

    Throw a pre-Christmas party or a post-New Year’s Eve party to finish all the leftovers. Organize a poker night or a simple get together with old friends. There are plenty of things you can do. And when you’re the host or the initiator of a certain social activity, since you’re on your ‘turf’, it’s easier to feel confident and be more social.

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    3. Bear Gifts

    All people love to receive gifts; it’s not just children that do at this time of year. Getting gifts makes them feel appreciated. This is why gifts are a good way to elicit people’s goodwill, and the holidays are the perfect occasion to bear gifts.

    So when you visit or meet someone, take a little time to buy them a nice little holiday present. It doesn’t have to be something expensive — just something interesting. Remember: it’s the gesture that matters the most.

    4. Take More Risks

    People who are shy or reserved are archetypal “risk avoiders” in social settings. They don’t want to say anything improper, be rude or embarrass themselves. Consequently, they avoid speaking their mind and being authentic in social interactions.

    If this is your case, this is a terrific moment to start taking more risks when interacting with others. Speak your mind, open up and be as spontaneous as you can. If others like you, fine. If they don’t, don’t worry — nobody has ever died because of it.

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    5. Seek the Friendly Persons

    If you have a hard time starting conversations with people at parties or other social events, the best advice I can offer you is to look for the people who seem the friendliest in the room and start by talking with them.

    The fact they are gregarious and positive heartens you to be the same. It boosts your self-assurance and, eventually, you will also feel confident enough to talk with other persons as well.

    6. Use the Holidays to Come Up with Conversation Topics

    During the holidays, one of the best topics to talk about is the holidays. People are generally in the moment, enjoying the festivities, and they like to share them with others.

    During conversation, ask people how they’ve spent the holidays so far, what their plans for the next few days are, what they’re doing for New Year’s Eve, what presents they got for Christmas and so on. There is an abundance of things to talk about regarding the holidays — so go for it.

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    7. Listen, but Also Talk

    A good conversation is a two-way street. It’s important to be a good listener and encourage the other person to talk and open up, but you also want to talk and open up yourself.

    For many people, this can be an issue. They tend to feel uncomfortable with disclosing themselves. There is only one method to overcome this, and that is to deliberately disclose yourself more, despite the aversion you have. As you get used to it, it gets a lot easier.

    In Closing

    As you open up and become more social, and start letting go of the need to have the approval of others, you’ll find yourself having a lot of fun during social interactions and fully enjoying the holidays.

    On that note, I wish you the best — and most social — holidays you’ve ever had.

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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